Voices Tuesday, October 21, 2014 - 05:30
Nidhi Mahesh | October 21, 2014 | 10.59 pm IST Rahul Gandhi carries one of the most trusted brand names in Indian politics, at least one that used to be most trusted till recently. Yet, his association with the brand did no good to him, worse, it affected the brand adversely. He is one of the best examples of a brand failing because of its ambassadors. Why RaGa could not compete with NaMo and brought down its own house? Let’s look at it, not from political but branding lenses. Failed Connection From the time Rahul was elevated to the position of Congress Vice President, the country was made to believe his coronation to the throne of PM is not far away. With a quiet and obedient Manmohan Singh keeping the chair warm, the expectation was the young (really??) Gandhi prince will hop, skip and jump to the top job. But the Prince looked on as the throne was snatched away, without blinking an eye! Perhaps his promoters (read mother Sonia Gandhi and dynasty sycophants in the party) were aware that despite the hype he was not ready for the top job! But what got communicated to the masses that he was supposed to woo was his reluctance. And, people all but wanted a reluctant leader to lead them. Rahul did try to show some spirit when he tried building a new vibe in the party bringing youth leaders to the fore. But he could hardly sustain it. His youth brigade remained in the background, hardly seen asserting or making a point on issues that concerned the masses. With his focus on “building organization” and impetus on new leadership he had hit the right chord, but failed to follow it through. The people, his target audience, were left to wonder on what his agenda was and how committed he was as a politician. Wrong Vibes The fact that Rahul is visiting the cyclone hit areas should have given him good publicity, but alas, all it could give him was some sarcastic tweets! Why? Simply because of the timing. His visit to AP and Orissa should have been planned much earlier. Him touring the cyclone torn region now, just when the Maharashtra and Haryana polls have almost written off Congress, only show his reluctance to face the facts. A leader needs to lead from front, but we have someone who is fond of the sidebar! Remember, his foreign trip just after Lok Sabha poll results were out? This seems like the chronic case of result phobia that grips young students as the gong is about to sound. And, yes of course it sends all the wrong vibes at a time when he can ill afford it. Communication Breakdown One of the biggest assets for any leader is the art to communicate. Not everyone is a born communicator, but then one acquires the skill on the way. In the case of Rahul Gandhi, he does not seem to have cultivated this skill at all. Neither he seemed to have borrowed, hired or even considered advice on this front. Like it or not his competition is a man who has championed all forms of communication and from being a political outcast in 2002, risen to be the most admired politician (going by poll results alone) today. While Narendra Modi reversed the wave of apathy and political untouchability with his well-crafted communication strategy, Rahul seems to have done just the opposite. The gre-haired man could connect and relate to the Youngistan much better than this relatively handsome looking black-haired, young scion of the established Gandhi brand could. Modi is all over, though he is inaccessible to traditional print and TV journalists, he is using the government broadcaster and social media to convey his thoughts and messages almost every minute. On the other hand we have gloomy silence to compare and even on occasions that Gandhi Jr. does speak, it is foot in mouth, more often than not! Exhibited Leadership Leadership is to be seen and experienced. Rahul Gandhi, despite high hopes and an army of sycophants around has not been seen as a leader. His record in Parliament is abysmal and his oratory in rallies fails to rise above mediocre. His acts of aggression – tearing off the ordinance or going to the well of the house – were not reflective of a decisive leadership but an annoyed prince. In a democratic society the leader must be seen to be one with the people, among the people. Sharing a meal with people of lowest strata were good photo ops, but needed a good script thereafter. But in his case there were many unfinished stories. There were headlines and then nothing. A sustained campaign, a crusade or a well thought out political propaganda was missing. His leadership, if any, was seen to be hesitant, indecisive and lacking the edge. This is proved even further by murmurs of “Priyanka lao” (bring Priyanka) finally becoming chants! This is anything but a vote of confidence in his leadership, even within his own party! Branding Apology In a nutshell what RaGa has proved to be is a branding apology for Congress. A party that survived all along on the brand name of Gandhi is fighting hard to stay afloat. Of course the Gandhi brand equity is at the lowest today, and the blame for this lies at the door of the brand ambassadors who all but sunk the brand. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability on the same.

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